Annoushka Ducas set up her first jewellery company, Links of London, when her mother, who ran a fish company, asked her to design a present for the chefs she supplied. The 60 cufflinks which Ducas designed were then picked up by a Harvey Nichols buyer and so Links of London was born. After selling the company, Ducas then set up her second venture, Annoushka, another hugely successful jewellery company with clients including Gwyneth Paltrow and the Duchess of Cambridge. Here she tell us the secrets of her success, her favourite restaurant and her advice on buying jewellery.
You are the co-founder and founder of two very successful jewellery companies – first Links of London and then Annoushka. What inspired you and is there anything you would have done differently?
After I sold Links in 2006 I decided to spend some time at home with my children but it wasn’t too long before the idea for Annoushka came to me. I felt like there was a real gap in the market for beautifully-made, narrative-led jewellery that could be worn every day and this is still central to my design ethos: I want my jewellery to be easy-to-wear and practical, but also to empower and inspire whoever wears it.
Where do you live in London and why?
I live between West Sussex and Pimlico. My house is close to the Pimlico Road and is a gem of a Georgian cottage that was originally built on the river and the home of a Thames ‘lighterman’. I love wandering through the local furniture and design shops looking for inspiration.
Where do you go to shop/eat/drink in London?
Connolly is a favourite atelier of mine who create beautifully tailored clothes that use gorgeous luxurious fabrics that will stand the test of time. Otherwise, I love discovering little independent boutiques that carry small designers. The Fumoir at Claridge’s is one of my favourite bars – I love its art-deco inspired decor. Hunan on the Pimlico Road is my go-to restaurant for imaginative Chinese food: it’s a stone’s through away from my design studio and has fed me through a multitude of deadlines. The food is sensational too!
What are your top 3 Instagram accounts to follow?
@thevampireswife – follow for an insight into designer Suzie Cave’s magical world combined with her gorgeous, super-flattering dresses. Suzie and I joined forces on a charm collaboration last year, inspired by her husband Nick Cave’s beautiful song-lyrics.
@londonvelvet – I am so proud of my daughter Marina who launched her own leather brand a few years ago and now offers bespoke commissions.
@dezeen – I love all aspects of design: art, architecture and interiors. Having a collection of designers and creative thinkers’ work published in one place feeds my creativity.
What are your top beauty products that you are currently using?
Votary is my go-to for fuss-free skincare that smells amazing – their Super Seed Facial Oil is a beauty staple of mine. My other hero products are By Terry Baume de Rose Lip balm which makes my lips soft and comfortable and my Sarah Chapman Ultimate Cleanser which keeps me refreshed and nourished after long flights.
What is your favourite piece of jewellery?
Either my art-deco inspired engagement ring which was the first piece of jewellery I designed for myself, nearly thirty years ago, or my Globe Charm which was inspired by a globe that was in my bedroom as a young girl – I rarely take it off. I’m also wearing my new Hidden Reef collection, which I launched earlier this month – it was inspired by the Philippines which is a country very dear to my heart and features vibrant orange and pink sapphires.
What advice would you give to somebody looking to buy a ‘forever’ piece of jewellery?
Go with your heart, rather than your head! Jewellery should make you feel a certain way every time you wear it: it is the emotion that it can evoke that makes it so powerful.
Are there any new young jewellers that you like?
I feel very grateful that I am able share my experience with young designers. I judge the BA Jewellery Design course at Central St Martins and I try to keep a watchful eye on the winner’s journey each year. This year’s winner, Diana Jung, showed real ingenuity and creativity through her collection, ‘Sense of Belonging’.
What advice would you give to somebody setting up their own company?
Don’t worry about making mistakes: that’s how you grow as a person and a businesswoman. Don’t be afraid to hire people who are better than you and never take no for an answer!
What are some of your highlights looking back over the last 10 years of Annoushka Jewellery?
There are far too many to count – I can’t believe it has only been ten years! In 2009 Annoushka had just the one shop in Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge. We now have four stand-alone boutiques as well as concessions in some of the most iconic department stores including Liberty, Harrods, and Selfridges. We opened our first boutique in Hong Kong in 2017 and this year we have just expanded into Mainland China through our partnership with Chow Tai Fook. Over the last ten years it has been a real honour to see some of the most iconic women in the world wear my jewellery: from the Duchess of Cambridge to Gwyneth Paltrow and Helen Mirren.